By Kathrin Hille in Beijing and Chris Nuttall in San Francisco
If Apple needed an illustration of its popularity in the world’s biggest smartphone market by volume, it was given one this month in Beijing.
The US group suspended sales of all iPhone models through its retail stores in China after the launch of its latest model – the 4S – at its flagship Sanlitun store in Beijing triggered a riot among black marketeers.
Such hysteria is an extreme example of the attraction of a device that drove Apple to its best quarter in its 35-year history, far outstripping analysts’ expectations. It further surprised investors with its optimism for 2012, suggesting its phenomenal growth was set to continue.
It cast aside its usual caution and forecast revenues and profits for the current quarter – $32.5bn and $8.50 per share – that for once bettered Wall Street’s predictions. Some of that optimism comes from the success it has had tapping new markets, including China.
The iPhone 4S is now in 90 countries, its fastest rollout ever – and the company now earns 58 per cent of its revenues outside the US. This means the rest of the world will come more into play and could lead growth this year.
Tim Cook, Apple chief executive, on Tuesday picked out China as having the most potential for growth. He told an analyst conference call that Apple was making some progress in Brazil, Russia and India, but China, among the Bric countries, was on a different level, with demand “staggering” and “off the charts”.
Read more at Financial Times